In the UK, it is a legal requirement that any gold jewellery being sold has an official hallmark from one of the four Assay Offices in the UK. The hallmark, a mark stamped on jewellery to certify the purity of gold, silver, platinum or palladium, is applied to jewellery after being thoroughly tested through the assaying process.
The main reason for this is to provide consumer protection. With the high price of precious metals, there is a serious risk of fraud as a thick plating of gold could easily cover a basic metal interior.
Even the most experienced jeweller or chemist can’t accurately calculate how much precious metal there is in an alloy by sight alone, so the UK’s Hallmarking laws protect the public and honest suppliers from those trying to deceive them. The UK’s Hallmarking Act 1973 makes it an offence for anyone in trade or business to:
Any jewellery being sold as gold, platinum, silver or palladium needs to be sent off to one of the Assay offices located in Birmingham, Edinburgh, London and Sheffield. At these locations, the purity of the precious metals is tested through three different processes:
The UK is one of a few countries throughout the world that have made hallmarking compulsory. This applies to any items from overseas that are intended to be sold as a precious metal. The only time that this process isn’t necessary is if the metal being sold is under the legal weight threshold, which is 1 gram for gold.
Since 1998, there have been 3 compulsory marks that make up a hallmark, these include:
When buying any gold jewellery, you should always make sure that there is a visible hallmark. It symbolises a stamp of quality that can only be applied by the Government Assay Offices. If you do see one of these marks, you can rest assured knowing that the precious metals used to create the jewellery has been thoroughly tested for purity. At Steven Stone, all our gold, silver, platinum and palladium jewellery carry official UK hallmarks.
For more information on our jewellery and how it is made, you can see our education section, or talk to one of our team.